Sunday, January 4, 2009

Making a 1960s Neck Tie Scares Me

On New Year's Day my mother and I braved the cold to see West Side Story at the Music Box Theater in Chicago. We saw the restored 70 mm film, viewing it just as it was shown in 1961 or thereabout. I badly wanted Rita Moreno's lavender dress (ruffled with lace on the inside of her swishy skirt), figuring it could be just the thing I need for landing more dance partners here in the Windy City. Aside from that, I admired the "Cool Boy" ties on the guys. I wanted to study them more, but you can't freeze-frame a movie under the twinkling skies at this 1929 theatre. It just isn't done, nor would it be advisable to take a picture unless you want to incur the wrath of fellow movie-goers. Anyhow, the one that particularly struck me (and I can't find an image of it online) was a skinny slip of a burgundy tie with these abstract gold cross-bars. Truly mod.

Now, I'm teaching a 1960s tie-making class (my knees are already shaking in a Cowardly Lion sort-of-way because I really feel like I don't know what I'm doing yet), so this particular man's accessory would intrigue me, especially now as I'm putting together yet another supply list. So I was at Vogue Fabrics today, scribbling out a list, checking it thrice to find it I'm naughty or nice. And I find, I'm actually quite delightful. I picked Vogue 7104 or 8048. I reckon I can narrow the tie in either to make it "Mad Men" wide. Ok, the pattern calls for one yard of fabric, you can pick charmeuse, crepe de chine, gabardine, jacquard and something else I can't quite decipher. Both patterns call for sew-in interfacing, but Rogie at Vogue Fabrics tells me the store actually has an interfacing specifically for ties. I'm putting that in. You need thread to match, Schmetz sewing needles suited for silks, and 5/8 of a yard of lining. Am I missing anything? I've communicated with Cidell, who has been obsessed with making ties. I wish I could share that passion, it would certainly help me get over my fear of ties. I've bookmarked her mitered corners, is there anything else I should before I jump into the neck-tie abyss?

It's funny but I don't fear stitching bow-ties in the same way. They just seem...mistake-proof? Maybe I'm not intimidated because they look inherently like you shouldn't take them too seriously? I'm so looking forward to making bow-ties. In fact, I would be triply-thrilled if all my students said, "We want to make bow-ties!" I would like bow down, sobbing tears of joy, thankful that they saved me from making a neck-tie. The only difference with a bow-tie is that you need a bow-tie set. Now this isn't something you can likely find at Walmart, but you can get it at Vogue Fabrics, although I'm not sure which department. Would you believe that these Vogue patterns actually call for fusible interfacing for the bow-tie? Does that just seem like soooo uncouture? Cheap? Unworthy of the guy you're actually making the tie for (or perhaps you're making it for yourself. I would to wear it with the New Look vest reviewed in Threads magazine this month.)

Skinny tie or bow tie, I'll master it all. I firmly believe it's all about the journey. I'm learning lots already and I haven't taken a set of shears to a piece of silk. And the class itself? That should totally be a hoot and half. I'm asking all students to wear vintage, especially the early 1960s. The best outfit wins a prize (most likely a goody bag with sewing stuff) and a picture on the Vogue Fabrics web site. Now that doesn't making sewing in a group sound so much more fun? Really. It makes the trip at the sewing machine (and it's really is trip - you've got your foot to the pedal, and with the proper gadget you could probably track your stitching miles) much more fun. I'm also convinced that getting decked out will take the pressure off of perfection. This workshop is more of a party (cocktails are the only items missing although I'm sure we could go out as a group afterwards if we were so inclined) and less of a lesson. If you make a great tie, wonderful. If you don't, hopefully you still laughed a lot and soaked up something even if it's only how to lift the presser foot.

If you make a tie of either variety, you'll be "on trend" as they say in Lucky Magazine. For more, read this article. If you're feeling thrifty, print out this Burda Style pattern. I'm toying with the idea of doing a comparison between the Burda and the Vogue patterns, just for the heck of it. The Burda one actually looks easy. Just print it out on your computer versus snipping out the tissue paper in the Vogue version. Ugh. Am I being a bad sport or what?

If you were to sew a tie today, who would you make it for? Yourself, a significant other or a stylish sibling? What kind of fabric would you use? For any other more experienced sewers reading this, can you tell me what kind of Schmetz needle is best for sewing silks? I need Sandra Betzina's Fabric Savvy but I don't have it handy (it's in the Vogue Fabrics classroom). One other thing: how wide is a 1960s tie? What fabric would make it look really retro? Would you guy wear a vintage-style tie to work or would he rather be arrested? One inquiring mind in freezing Chicago wants to know. Now I've just clicked on Bowtie Bill's blog, who knew his kind still existed in Vermont? I thought it was all just the Von Trapps and downhill skiing.


Melissa Fehr Trade said...

Cidell (Miss Celie's Pants blog) recently tried her first neckties and found David Page Coffin's tie pdf to be SO helpful. I am absolutely in love with the man after buying his Shirtmaking book so I was thinking about buying it myself, despite the fact that my man hates ties. hmm. Anyway, the pdf is here:

susan said...

Just happened upon your blog. I made my first man's silk tie, a seven fold using a vintage Vogue pattern and the David Page Coffin article from Thread's issue 27. Great directions for lining the tips! For the small amount of machine stitching, I used a Schmetz #70 needle with great results. Vogue fabrics is one of my favorite 'local' shops (I consider 2 hours away local when fabric is involved!)

the_lazymilliner said...

Susan - thanks for the tip about the Schmetz needle. I'll give it a shot! Mary Beth

AnimeshSingh said...

I want to move in with you and learn all things sewing related. Can you please offer a camp! I'll bring the babysitters!i really glad to know - How to Tie a Necktie